Essential food and wine experiences: Singapore

This article represents the personal favourites of Foodtourist’s editors Sue Dyson and Roger McShane. These are the places they haunt on their regular visits to Singapore.

Singapore is home to an amazing array of restaurants ranging from those at the top of the tree to more modest places serving carefully prepared ethnic cuisines.

When we are travelling, we normally eschew restaurants in up-market hotels as they rarely deliver on their promise. However, in Singapore it is different with some excellent restaurants such as the Nadaman in the Shangri-La (Japanese), the Summer Palace in the Regent (Cantonese) and the Wan Hao in the Marriot (Northern Chinese) all serving good examples of the food of their respective cuisines.

Of course the best food is to be found in the Hawkers Stalls. Some have been given over to tourist traps and others are still resolutely providing authentic food for the locals. Surprisingly one of the most authentic is right in the middle of the China Town tourist precinct where it is very difficult to spot a tourist - they seem to favour the Maxwell Street Food Centre. We just love the Chinatown Food Centre in Smith Street. This first floor food centre is where the locals go for their lunch and dinner. There are over 100 food stalls here and the locals patiently line up at their favourites such as Nui Che Shui Famous Glutinous Rice or Lian He Ben Ji Claypot or Tian Tian Pork Porridge all of which we love.

One of the dishes that Singaporeans revere is Singapore Chicken Rice. This is a dish derived from the famous southern Chinese island where chicken is cooked in stock slowly to preserve the flavour and the juices. It is one of the few dishes where we think that the breast meat is as good as our preferred thighs or leg meat. To find the best you will need to take a taxi out to Jalan Rumah Tinggi to find Fook Seng GoldenHill Chicken Rice a tiny kitchen crouched underneath a residential apartment block. Here the chicken is exceptional and certainly is worth the journey.

Some other cuisines that you must try while you are in Singapore include Peranakan (we like to go to Blue Ginger for the delicious Ayam Buah Keluak), Samsui (try the Samsui chicken at the Soup Kitchen - this is a dish cooked on special occasions by the Chinese Samsui women who built much of the old city), Hainanese cuisine (try the food of this Chinese island at Tian Tian Hainanese) and Cantonese (the best are Summer Palace and the excellent Lei Gardens Restaurant in the Chijmes Centre).

No visit to Singapore would be complete without trying the famous Singapore Chilli Crab at one of the places at the East Coast Seafood Centre on the East Coast Parkway.

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Our book recommendation

We thoroughly recommend the excellent book by Marco Canora, a chef whose food we admire having eaten his food at Hearth and Terroir.